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Thanks for good advice

My wife and I appreciate the leads we got from this Board on our recent brief visit to Boston. We had wonderful clams, oysters, mussels and crab at Neptune Oyster and Island Creek Oyster Bar. The former place is tiny and cramped, but well worth a visit. The latter offers a large, attractive dining room.We also loved Coppa. The arancini were Rome-quality and the black pasta with lobster and margherita pizza were excellent. We planned to dine at Trattoria Toscana, but were scared off by the Red Sox crowds at nearby Fenway Park. Instead we went to Brasserie Gaslight. I had confit of duck and my wife had steak frites, both very enjoyable. Also, highly recommended. Bon appetit!

May 15, 2012
sernoff in Greater Boston Area

Food "Souvenirs" From Rome

A belated supplement to my trip reply: We have enjoyed both of the olive oils we brought back from Rome. To our taste, we have preferred the Umbrian, Marfuga, oil we purchased at Volpetti to the Sabina oil we purchased at Palatium. Both used in salads. Always a matter of taste.

Colatura di Alici has been a revelation. We have "settled" on the following recipe: We make a pesto-like mixture of parsley, walnuts (or pine nuts) and olive oil in our food processor and store it in 8 ounce mason jars in our refrigerator (topped with 1/4 inch of olive oil it "keeps" for months). Cook 1/2 pound of pasta al dente. Mix the parsley-walnut mixture with the cooked pasta (with a clove or two of minced garlic and some pepper flakes cooked in a little olive oil) and add 2 tbsp. of Colatura to the mix just before serving. Serves two as a main course. Wonderful, and quick and easy!

If you like cured anchovies by themselves buy them. If you mash them in oil as part of a sauce, consider Colatura as an alternative.

Colatura can be purchased in the US on-line or at some specialty markets. Half price purchased in Italy.

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Palatium
Via Frattina 94, Roma , IT

Oct 19, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Rome Dining Report - May, 2011

http://www.atac.roma.it/index.asp?p=14

Your comment is very kind. Those of us who profit from good, free advice on this site should always provide our comments on the restaurants we chose to patronize. If you scroll down a few place on this board to the entry entitled Restaurants in Rome for September you will find a little more of my "philosophy" on dining choices.

I hope I have managed to enter the link for the ATAC website above. If you go to that sight and point your mouse on the Itialiano icon in the upper right hand corner you will see an icon for English appear right below. This will tell you all you need to know about how to get from wherever you are staying to wherever you are going quickly and economically. It saved us a good deal of time and money on transportation in Rome which we were happy to apply to dining. Taxis are reasonably priced in Rome, but the driving experience is often less stressful in a bus, or, particularly, the subway.

Have a great trip. We did.

Sep 05, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Restaurants in Rome in September

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/785318

Hopefully, if have managed to enter a link to my May 18th posting on a week of dining in Rome. If you read it, you will see that my wife and I enjoyed virtually all of our meals in Rome, as we usually do when we carefully prepare for a trip abroad by doing our legwork on Chowhound.

Here are our methods: First, we check the advice of experts, local food lovers, and comments of tourists who sound knowledgeable about what they experienced in dining at particular restaurants. Where such posters disagree--and they often do--we filter out the comments that don't seem to apply to our tastes.

Second, we choose restaurants located conveniently for our hotel and/or our planned touring destinations. For example, when we toured the Forum in the morning, we chose a restaurant in Monti for our late-lunch main meal, rather than one in Trastevere, where we toured and dined on another day.

Third, when we think we are homing in on restaurant choices, we check for useful photos on flickr. If the food looks good to us, we usually end up enjoying it; if it looks unappealing it comes off our list. Ms. Parla and Ms. Minchilli have provided loads of informative photos on their websites.

Fourth, when we we are enticed to go to a restaurant by descriptions or pictures of particular dishes, those are the dishes we order. We didn't go to Checchino for fish and we didn't go to La Gensola for meat. When we went to L'Arcangelo on Ms. Parla's recomendation we got pastas carbonara and amatriciana exactly as she described (delicious but a little underdone for some tastes, but not ours or hers).

A word on Ms. Fant's advice. She flatly warns her reader where she travels frequently to dine in the city and where she rarely goes. She spends a lot of time in Monti, where she lives, and in Testaccio where she shops. She apparently is a more occasional visitor to Prati. We took that into account. She is careful to warn that regular patrons may well get better treatment than one-time visitors at some places. We also took that into account. Bottom line: When and if we get back to Rome we owe her a fine meal for the very helpful advice we got from her postings at no cost to us. Thanks again, Maureen! And thanks to Katie, Elizabeth, vinoroma, jen kalb and others. We had a grand visit.

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L'Arcangelo
Via G. G. Belli 59/61, Rome, Lazio 00193, IT

La Gensola
Piazza della Gensola, 15, Rome, Lazio 00153, IT

Sep 04, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Opinions on Rome restaurant choices

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/785318

Hopefully I have succeeded in pasting my Rome dining report above. If not, you may wish to scroll down to the May 18th posting. It includes comments on several places on your list.

Aug 26, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Volpetti's, Rome Italy

We purchased a fair amount of goodies at Volpetti on our trip to Rome in May, which we continue to enjoy. Our shopping list: Cans of premium olive oil; a bottle of colatura di alici, aged pecorino cheese and dried porcini. They offered more samples of cheese for tasting than we could cope with. Since we were heading for lunch at Checchino dal 1887--which I also recommend highly--we didn't do more than gaze at the ample offerings of salumi and hams. They will vacuum wrap and/or bubble wrap everything for travel.

Perhaps Maureen Fant or one of the other regular shoppers at Volpetti can suggest an optimal time for your shopping visit. Late on a Saturday morning clearly was not optimal.

You may want to dial back to my 4/6/11 posting --Food "Souvenirs" In Rome--and the responses thereto for some additional tips. I will forever be in vinoroma's debt for mentioning Colatura di Alici. If I knew then what I know now, I would have brought back at least three bottles.

We showed up at what must be the worst possible time, late Saturday morning, but the elder Volpetti was more than willing to spend time helping us. Prices may be a bit higher, reflecting the quality of Volpetti's offerings; since I didn't do much shopping elsewhere I don't really know. What I do know is that I would pay far more for those items in the U.S., if they are available here at all.

Aug 07, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Italy 2011 progress report. Rome/Sienna/Florence/Venice/Milan

Dingaling: Very good of you to file a report on the go. Here is my advice on Venice. 1) Search for, and pay close attention to advice on this board by PBSF on dining in Venice (and, on some future trip, on dining in Barcelona). He is a most reliable guide. 2) For seafood dining --which is what Venice is all about--be prepared to pay and concentrate on delicacies from the Venetian lagoon that are rarely, if ever, available anywhere else. If seasonally available, don't miss moeche, tiny little soft shell crabs from the lagoon. 3) If costs are a concern, focus on seafood risottos or pasta dishes. We had wonderful
pasta with vongole veraci and risotto with squid in their ink in Venice at reasonable prices.

Sorry about your experience at La Gensola in Rome, which we loved. We had seafood appetizers and seafood pastas there. All prepared to perfection.

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La Gensola
Piazza della Gensola, 15, Rome, Lazio 00153, IT

Aug 01, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Chowhound Challenge: 1 PERFECT ROME RESTAUARANT

There are a number of reports on this board regarding which restaurants are open on Sunday evenings. Do a search combining rome and sunday. See my dining report posted on May 20th for my impressions of La Campana, which I believe is open Sunday nights and may meet your specifications. The restaurant is a few blocks north of the Piazza Navona.

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La Campana
Vicolo della Campana, 18, Roma, IT 00186, IT

May 30, 2011
sernoff in Italy

The Extravaganza - Rome

My report of 5/20/11 (Rome Dining Report-May, 2011) failed to note that the Gnocchi Amatriciana were on L'Arcangelo's menu for a MONDAY lunch. They may now be an everyday item. We failed to take advantage because I was obsessed with carbonara and my wife preferred her amatriciana with pasta rather than gnocchi. Our loss may be the OPs gain.

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L'Arcangelo
Via G. G. Belli 59/61, Rome, Lazio 00193, IT

May 27, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Good place to shop for Italian provisions in Venice?

Good news; you have received advice from two sources I know you can rely on. We went to Drogheria Mascari to buy some spices six years ago. Only one exceptional purchase; a spice mix they call erbe miste per pesce. I feel sure it contains fennel; not sure what else. That said, it is the best spice for fish I have ever purchased and retains its potency all these years later. Perfect for the classic local risotto of seafood with radicchio. If you are in the Rialto bridge area, stop by the store and buy some. I feel sure it will be a happy purchase.

May 25, 2011
sernoff in Italy

The Extravaganza - Rome

If you scroll down on this board to May 20, you will find my report on dining at five of the places on your list the week before, for what it may be worth to you.

May 23, 2011
sernoff in Italy

CHEAP but GOOD eats in Rome

Look seven places down on this string and find your answer.

May 22, 2011
sernoff in Italy

CHEAP EATS ROME

http://www.parlafood.com/tipping-in-i...

Michael: You are most welcome. The above link on tipping customs in Italy may also be of interest. Any money you can appropriately save based on different customs in Italy than apply in the U.S. can enhance your dining budget.

As a retiree, I had lots of time to prepare for our short trip with online research. I offer a few places that we did not get a chance to visit for your further research on this board and on Google. Er bruchetto, Via del Viminale 20 (near Repubblica metro) for porchetta; Aristocampo for porchetta and Forno Campo di Fiori for white pizza al taglio (both at Campo di Fiori); Lo Zozzone, Via del Teatro Pace 32 for panini and pizza (near Piazza Navona); Dal Cavalier Gino, Vicolo Rossini 4 (near Pantheon) and Da Gianni Cacio e Pepe, Via Avezzana 11 (a short walk from your apartment). These are in addition to the two places the far more knowledgable Zerlina referenced, which were also on my list. Look em up! I am certain I found most, if not all, referenced in comments on this site. Over and out.

May 19, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Rome Dining Report - May, 2011

You folks are killing me with kindness. When experts take the time to respond to my queries with free advice, the least I can do is file a report that indicates I appreciated the advice, followed it and benefitted greatly from it. While we obviously were very pleased with the choices we made, we necessarily missed some others we would surely have enjoyed as well. We were going to have one meal in Prati; we picked L'Arcangelo and missed Settembrini. After touring the Capitoline and the forum we took a short metro ride to Monti and missed L'Asino D'Oro. Etc., etc. The important thing is that we were able to pick winners for us based on knowledge gained here.

All the detail in my report may have suggested that I was a retired bookkeeper fondling his receipts. Not guilty! Questions, and responses, on Chowhound range from those whose interest is tasting menus at Michelin-starred restaurants to those whose purse confines them to the best available pizza slice. It isn't always easy for those of us in the middle of the pack to fathom the pricing at restaurants that pique our interest. That's why I alway provide detail while the "evidence" is fresh at hand.

Thanks again pals.

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L'Arcangelo
Via G. G. Belli 59/61, Rome, Lazio 00193, IT

Settembrini
Via Luigi Settembrini, 25, Rome, Lazio , IT

May 19, 2011
sernoff in Italy

CHEAP EATS ROME

Having just returned from a one week stay in Rome --on which I filed a fairly long dining report here -- let me give you a few tips you might find helpful.

First, get the best map(s) you can find. Your apartment is very close to the Flaminia metro stop, Use the subway regularly. It is inexpensive and fast. The Testaccio market is some distance away from your apartment, but a quick and easy trip on the metro for E1.

Second, for destinations not close to a metro stop, go to the website for the transportation system, ATAC. I believe it is www.atac.roma.it. It will tell which bus(es) to take from point A to point B. A ride of 75 minutes or less, including transfers, will also cost you E1. Point your mouse to the little Italiano sign on the upper right hand corner and it gives you the option of instructions in English. Also, if you are taking a computer with you use Google Maps to pinpoint locations.

Third, while you have already received some great suggestions, keep re-researching previous comments on this board for relevant tips, Search on items like pizza al taglio, porchetta, panini and tramezzini for delicious and inexpensive feeds.

With a month, you will become quite familiar with Rome. Some further research in the months before your trip will help you hit the ground running.
Pizzarium, mentioned above, is three stops and less than 10 minutes from you on the A line. Emerge from the Cipro exit, turn left, walk 50 yards to the next corner and you are there. 00100 looks like a 10 minute walk from the Piramide station in Testaccio on the B line.

You are no doubt right that many travelers--and perhaps some residents--who post on this board may not share your concerns about the cost of dining and may also rarely wander far afield from the Centro area. Who knows what delightful dining bargains are available at the farther reaches of the metro lines? Someone does.

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Pizzarium
Via della Meloria, 43, Rome, Lazio 00136, IT

May 19, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Rome Dining Report - May, 2011

My wife and I, having returned to Southeast Florida from a wonderful week in Rome, offer this report on our dining experiences there. By way of preface, I should note that we are seniors, light eaters (though pasta lovers) and take our main meals while traveling at lunchtime. All of our restaurant choices, and most of the dishes we consumed, were based on Chowhound Italy Board commentary, but none of them were a destination in and of themselves. We tried to match restaurants with touring destinations.

On arrival in Rome, we had our first meal at a location close to our hotel in Prati. We loved L'Arcangelo. The restaurant has a pleasant ambiance, and our reception by Signora Dandini, who was also our server, was very pleasant. We were served a lovely amuse bouche, which was a soup of carrot and lemon puree with bottarga shavings. We then split an order of suppli, which consisted of two suppli and two other fried items which appeared to be filled with a delicate puree of zucca. We claim no expertise about suppli, but can't imagine they could be prepared better. Then I had rigatoni carbonara and my wife had rigatoni amatriciana. Both dishes were lightly sauced, as we generally prefer, but very rich and flavorful. We had three glasses of wine between us. Our bill came to E63; truly a bargain. Our choice of L'Arcangelo was mainly predicated upon Katie Parla's descriptions and photos of the dishes we ordered. Thanks, Katie. By the way, as Katie has indicated, L'Arcangelo serves pasta somewhat more al dente than is usual. It was fine with us, and we were too exhausted from the trip to request any special treatment.

The next day, while touring in the Spagna area, we dined at Palatium. We split a large, and very fresh, insalata mista. My wife then had pollo con peperoni, which she found quite enjoyable. I had ravioli di porchetta, which I found uninspired. Frankly, I found the porchetta panino I got at our litlle neighborhood bar for an evening snack more tasty. We had two glasses of wine. Our bill came to E45.50, which was obviously reasonable. The modern, spare decor of the restaurant offered litlle in the way of ambience and the service, while adequate, was indifferent. One bonus for dining at Palatium was the opportunity to pick among a nice selection of local oils. We bought a 250 ml bottle of Sabina DOP for E4.50.

The next day, while touring in Trastevere and the Ghetto we had lunch at La Gensola, which we absolutely adored. This tiny restaurant has a charming ambience and offers a wide variety of seafood dishes (along with Roman classics). We started with two orders of scallops, grilled lightly to perfection, placed on a film of squid ink. The two identical appetizers were the result of my fumbling Italian. We intended to split one order, which would have been insufficient. If I had been more competent, I would have ordered one scallops and one tonno "polpette", but je ne regret rien. For mains my wife had her perennial favorite, spaghetti vongole, and I had tagiolini with calamari, sundried tomatoes and a hint of what I believe was fennel. My wife's vongole were "best ever", partly because the clams were cooked just to perfection, and partly because the pasta were not swimming in the usual pool of oil, clam juice and, often, white wine. They were moist and redolent of the sea, but posed no risk of decorating the diner's shirt or top with stains. Perfect! My dish was also extraordinary. These folks have mastered the art of cooking squid. We had four glasses of wine between us, two espressos and shared a terrific warm, flourless chocolate cake "mit schlag" (my description, not theirs). Total bill: E93. Run, don't walk, to La Gensola. Thanks to Elizabeth Minchilli for her part in directing our attention to La Gensola.

The next day, while in the area of Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, we dined at La Campana. This place looks like everyone's fantasy vision of a Roman restaurant. The ambience is traditional, but informal. Service acceptable but a tad stiff. I had abbacchio con patate, which I found moist and delectable, if a bit chewy. My wife, the scallopine lover, had saltimbocca with fresh porcini. She was very happy. Thanks to Maureen Fant for suggesting an order of vignarola, a dish unfamiliar to us, at La Campana. We loved it. We each had a glass of wine and an espresso. Total bill: E49. Clearly a bargain at a fine restaurant.

The next day, after touring the Campidoglio and the forum we took the metro to nearby Trattoria Monti. We started with their justly famed flans; mine with red onion and gorgonzola, my wife's with asiago cheese. Not to be missed at this restaurant.
My wife then had pasta with ragu marchigiano which was quite good and I had the famous tortoni al uova, which I had expected to be the culinary highlight of the trip. It wasn't. I found it rather ordinary and not particularly lush. We had a half bottle of wine and two espressos. The ambience at Monti was not particularly memorable; the service was agreeable. One negative was the heat. The place was a bit of an oven. Why this was the case mystifies me. None of the restaurants we patronized was air-conditioned in 75 degree weather, but this was the only one where we felt immediately cooler when we stepped outside. Our bill: E61. In my opinion, Maureen Fant has this place pegged: a better than average neighborhood trattoria that has been somewhat over-hyped in the media.

The next day, in Testaccio, we dined at Checchino dal 1887. The ambiance is pleasant but a bit formal, as is the service ( though not at all off-putting). My wife started with tonnarelli al sugo di coda, which she relished. I had pajata, which I didn't particularly enjoy. Tasty, but a little too gamey for my American palate (but I had to give the dish a try). If I knew then what I know now I would not have passed up what turned out to be my last chance to have cacio e pepe in Rome. Oh well, maybe next time.
My wife had abbacchio cacciatora, which she found quite delicious. I had coda vaccinara, which was an out of body experience. The meat was succulent and fell off the bone. The sauce was simply wonderful, with its taste of cloves and a touch of bitter chocolate. Happily, our local Publix market always has oxtail in stock, so I will take a crack at preparing this marvelous dish at home (based on online recipes that purport to be Checchino's and Perilli's). I have no illusions about how successful my version will be by comparison with the original. We also had three glasses of wine and two espressos. Our bill came to E86.

On our final day, after visiting the Museo Borghese, we took the bus from the gardens to Piazza Barberini for lunch at Le Colline Emiliane. It is a small restaurant with a pleasant ambience. Service was exceptionally helpful and friendly. I started with a delectable plate of culatello and my wife had a very fresh salad. Next, I had a very fine dish of tagliatelle bolognese, from which any hint of tomato appeared to be absent. There are lots of versions of this dish, even in Bologna; this was as good as any I have had in Italy or the U.S. My wife had the Sunday special, lasagna, which turned out to be her top treat of the trip. Her appraisal was alternatively, that she had never before had lasagne as God intended it to be prepared, or that the dish would make a mockery of any lasagne she eats hereafter. I agree, though I got only a tiny taste. Normally, my wife leaves enough on her plate for me to enjoy. Here she was stingy and grudging, offering only a peewee forkful. If you are in Rome on a Sunday this is your place and lasagne is your dish. We had two glasses of wine, two espressos and shared a dessert of zabaglione, which I deemed unremarkable. Our bill came to E73. I gather that advance reservations are a must at Le Colline Emiliane for evenings and Sunday. We had reservations at every restaurant we patronized in Rome, but this was the only one where I felt a luncheon reservation was necessary in order to be seated.

Not a great deal to report about snacks. We very much enjoyed pizza al taglio with a fresh tomato topping at Pizzarium, just two metro stops from our hotel. Signore Bonci was turning out some amazing and novel choices from his tiny kitchen. Also near our hotel was Gelateria Gracchi, where we had spectacular dark chocolate gelato. The spectacular tramezzini at Pepy's Bar on Piazza Barberini are also worth amention. We enjoyed them on our last evening in Rome.

Thanks to all for the advice that made our dining experiences in Rome memorable. A particular doff of my hat to Katie Parla, Elizabeth Minchilli, Maureen Fant, vinoroma and jen kalb. Apologies for missing any of the other restaurants and dishes you recommended. We did the best we could. If any forthcoming travelers have found this report useful, they might also want to consult my exuberant review of the Hotel Farnese when it appears on tripadvisor.com.

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La Campana
Vicolo della Campana, 18, Roma, IT 00186, IT

Trattoria Monti
Via di San Vito,13a, Roma , IT

Palatium
Via Frattina 94, Roma , IT

Checchino dal 1887
Via di Monte Testaccio, 30, Rome 00153, IT

Perilli
Via Marmorata 39, Rome , IT

L'Arcangelo
Via G. G. Belli 59/61, Rome, Lazio 00193, IT

Colline Emiliane
Via degli Avignonesi, 22, Rome, Lazio 00187, IT

Pizzarium
Via della Meloria, 43, Rome, Lazio 00136, IT

La Gensola
Piazza della Gensola, 15, Rome, Lazio 00153, IT

May 18, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Food "Souvenirs" From Rome

Well, we're back after a wonderful week in Rome. Here's what we brought back: One 250 ml. bottle of DOP Sabina olive oil purchased at Palatium; 250 gm. of dried porcini purchased at the Castroni outlet on Via d. Croce (along with several cans of Sicilian tuna); three 500 gm. packages of Verrigni pasta purchased at Roscioli (if they and L"Arcangelo make a point of specifying this brand on their menus, I figure it's gotta be good); two 250 ml. cans of Marfuga Umbrian olive oil, 2 cans of Callipo tuna ventresca; about 250 gm. of aged pecorino and one 250 ml. bottle of colatura di alici (all purchased at Volpetti under the guidance of Signore Volpetti); and spices at the little shop on Via Luca della Robbia (a block behind Volpetti).

Thanks in particular to Maureen Fant, vinoroma and jen kalb for their advice. Maureen: Signore Volpetti broke out in a big smile when I mentioned your name and showed me his picture in your book.

All goods got home in good order with bubble-wrapping by Signore Volpetti and me. As best I can tell, they cost me half or less than what I would pay to purchase them in the U.S.

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Palatium
Via Frattina 94, Roma , IT

Roscioli
Via dei Giubbonari 21/23, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

May 17, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Food "Souvenirs" From Rome

Thanks to periclosa, honu2, bob96, jbar and HeBrew for your input. The whole string has been very valuable to us.

Apr 16, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Rome in May

As the OP, whose week in Rome is still three weeks off, I'll pipe in.
I have read about the deceased proprietor of Felice, who reportedly put a reserved sign on every table, and admitted to his restaurant only those whom he wished to serve (a policy apparently rescinded by his successors). I'd call that cranky, but I can live with it. Always wanted to dine at Rao's in NYC. Fuggedaboudit!

I can also relate to the notion that regular patrons get a heartier greeting than one-timer tourists, particularly those who are demanding or whose behavior is somehow difficult for the house.

For me, the line gets drawn where a restaurateur says your money is welcome, but I'm going to charge you more than another patron. There is double underlining on that thought if I understand, as indicated in Zerlina's comment farther up in this string, that the up-charge is unlawful. Adding a charge to the credit card after the guest has signed gets triple underlining. Antico Arco was never on my list. Now, I wouldn't go there at gunpoint.

My amour for Grano and Gensola has been diminished by comments on the discriminatory up-charge theme.

Will report in detail on our dining experiences in Rome after the trip. Looking forward ever more eagerly.

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Antico Arco
Piazzale Aurelio, 7, Roma 00151, IT

Grano
Piazza Rondanini, 53, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

Apr 14, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Rome - Trip Report - Trattoria Monti, Antico Arco, Le Mani in Pasta - October 2010

Thanks GillH for a fine report. As our trip to Rome approaches, I am distressed to read another report of a well-regarded restaurant whose initial instinct is to seat foreign tourist in"Siberia", then get huffy when they protest, and then add a special service charge just for them. More on the latter issue in my recent post below, Rome in May (most recent reply posted on April 7). A pox on such establishments! Rest assured, they need not worry about having to accommodate us.

Glad to read of a good experience at Monti, where I have requested a luncheon reservation.

Apr 13, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Food "Souvenirs" From Rome

Thanks to CJT, vinoroma, ekc and goodeatsgal for your helpful input. Much appreciated.

Apr 07, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Food "Souvenirs" From Rome

Preliminary thanks to mbfant, jen kalb, and vinorama. A couple of thoughts:

First, There was never much chance that we wouldn't have visited all of Castroni (near our hotel), Roscioli and Volpetti. My impression is that I can do all my shopping at their stores (or even at one of them). It sounds like there is no rational need to search hither, tither and yon for obscure, quality purveyors of items of greatest interest to us or to waste precious time wandering around looking for "bargains" . We have reservations at Checchino for lunch on Saturday. Perhaps we can present ourselves to Signor Volpetti pre-lunch and follow his guidance for all of our needs.

Second, the spice mix "vision" has been put to rest. If nothing comes to mind to you three, case closed.

Third, re stock "bases", rest assured I can make a decent seafood stock with shrimp shells and lobster shells (I never leave our local, South Florida, lobster emporium without taking the shells with me) and there are pretty good "enhancers" available in our local markets. Thanks vinorama for mentioning Colatura di Alici. I will look into that. Likewise jen, i will look into STAR bouillon cubes; have never seen them in our stores.

Maureen, when I file my post-trip report you will again see your valued influence. Thanks for alerting me to Tonno di Carloforte. News to me. Gotta have some. Thanks again for the mention of lentils. Here, we can get dried beans, but a limited selection. The Italian selection is limited to cannelini. All responders have raised my courage on packing some olive oil, Do you have a recommendation for a canned-extra vergin olive oil good for general purpose cooking (particularly one appropriate for seafoods)?

Thanks again to all for their guidance. Be certain that it is highly valued.

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Roscioli
Via dei Giubbonari 21/23, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

Apr 06, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Food "Souvenirs" From Rome

We have heretofore received most welcome advice from contributors to this site as to excellent dining destinations for our trip to Rome in May. Now we seek advice on foodstuffs to bring back from Rome. What we have in mind are items that are unavailable in the U.S. or available only in lower quality or significantly higher price. Here are our current principal "targets"; we will welcome advice on where best to purchase them:

1) Canned or jarred tuna; Tre Torri or similar quality (if there are other canned or jarred seafood specialties we should have in mind; by all means mention them).

2) Dried funghi porcini.

3) Moderate amounts of Pecorino Romano and Parmagiano-Reggiano cheeses; preferably from a purveyor able to vacuum pack them for travel.

4) "Unusual" (at least in the U.S.) spice mixes. About five years ago we purchased a moderate quantity of "erbe miste per pesce" at Drogheria Mascari in Venice. So many home-made seafood risotti have since been memorably enhanced by that seasoning, and, incredibly, it seems to have lost little of its potency. Nary a clue as to what the mixture contains, though we do sense the presence of fennel. If there is a spice or mix we should not leave Rome without, please tell us what it is and from whom to purchase it.

5) Similar to 4) above, if there is a marvelous seafood stock "base" or enhancer that we should have in mind, please send us in the right direction (we find it a lot more challenging to prepare palatable seafood stock from "scratch than chicken, beef or vegetable stock).

I haven't mentioned obvious items like olive oil or wine because we are squeamish about packing them amongst our clothing. Also, I have omitted pasta because we have access to a variety of artisanal Italian dry pasta at home at what we regard as reasonable prices. No doubt the above list excludes some "must buys" so don't hesitate to bring any such items to our attention.

Thanks in advance for your attention.

Apr 06, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Rome in May

Thanks to ekc and vinoroma. I value the zingers just as much as the raves.

Mar 15, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Best tagliatelle al ragú in Bologna

Since I have not yet been to Bologna, some might say that I should keep my mouth shut. But, I note 1) Mario Batali loves Ristorante Diana and Ristorante Al Cambio at the high end and Tamburini at the low end. Fred Plotkin also loves Tamburini, which appears to be a food shop including hot prepared items. 2) Go to your local bookstore and browse Plotkin's Gourmet Guide to Travel In Italy. 3) At saveur.com search for Bologna and you will find a little piece on Trattoria Anna Maria (as well as a classic recipe from the famous (for ragu) Simili sisters). 4) Above all, search for Bologna on this board and see prior postings by locals and travelers with serious taste buds.

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Al Cambio
Via Stalingrado, 150, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40128, IT

Trattoria Anna Maria
Via delle Belle Arti, 17, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

Mar 10, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Rome in May

Katie: Since you say to use the familiar, I will do so. I didn't mean to raise a big issue, but, having done so, go gal, and settle it!

Here are some thoughts from an American tourist that may be helpful to whomever speaks to food-interested tourists to Rome, or elsewhere in Europe. Assume I go to a good restaurant in the USA, including wine, and am charged $100 on my bill. I will be expected, and, of course will, leave a tip of 15% - 20%. If I go to Europe and pay E85 for a similar dinner and leave a few coins for the server, I assume I am rewarding the server and paying close to the same total price as I would back home (I leave aside, but recognize, that waiters' pay structure differs as between the USA and at least some European destinations).

That said, now let's assume that I could dine at Grano and get a basic bill for E85 or dine at a restaurant of "equivalent quality" in the same area for the same price. If one charges me a "coperto" or "servicio incluso" that is much higher than the equivalent restaurant I would be interested in that fact. I would be even more interested if I thought that the charge was being imposed selectively.

That said, I will raise a few other points for chowhounders to kibbitz about: In our most recent trips to Europe we have noticed that charges for acceptable "house" wines are significantly below prices charged in the USA for wines of "equivalent quality". Is this the experience of others? If so, is that widely known? If not, does it cause diners on a budget to " dial down" their budget for dining choices based on calculations from home experience?

One last thought for chowhounder travelers reporting their experiences: Do not be embarrassed to report not only what you enjoyed, but, if you have a record, tell what you spent, how many courses you ate, what you drank, etc. Why do I say this? Because those who care deeply about food, but have a budget, may "dial down" their destination choices because they read reviews from people who dine more heavily than they do and fear to go to some restaurants that they could afford, and love, because they fear that they will "break the bank". I proffer a 2010 example: Cal Pep in Barcelona. 1) we felt an obsession to go there, based mainly on chowhound reports; 2) it was good, but in our humble opinion we ate better elsewhere in that noted food city; 3) we spent less at al Pep than we expected to spend because we ate less than most of those who dined when we were there ate (many of our contemporary tourista dining compatriots there seemed to feel a need to sample everything offered, without pressure from the establishment). Obviously, these thoughts will be irrelevant to those who dote on tasting menus, the latest molecular offering, etc., but there are a lot of the rest of us who go, care, and appreciate all the information we can get to make informed choices that work for us.

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Grano
Piazza Rondanini, 53, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

Mar 08, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Rome in May

Ms. Parla: Thanks very much for your input. You confirmed my vague suspicion about Piperno, where I remember dining on my last trip to Rome in 1978. I am forewarned that Roscioli is chaotic at lunch, when we generally prefer to have our main meal. I am a tad confused about the service charge at Grano. I assume it is a coperto on steroids as opposed to a simple servisio incluso.

At the risk of fawning, I want to thank you above all for the fantastic food photographs on your website and on ParlaFood's Photostream on Flickr. Experts' comments on particular dishes at particular restaurants are always very helpful, but seeing the dish adds a whole new dimension. For example, your verbal description of Da Danilo's carbonara takes visible form in your photo of the dish.

A closing comment to Ms. Fant: No photographs are necessary to conjure up a vision of "great hulking battered cod filets". Filletaro Santa Barbara will have to get along without our patronage.

I am greatly indebted to all of you.

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Piperno
Monte de' Cenci, 9, Rome, Lazio , IT

Roscioli
Via dei Giubbonari 21/23, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

Grano
Piazza Rondanini, 53, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

Da Danilo
Via Francesco Petrarca, Figline Valdarno, Toscana 50063, IT

Mar 07, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Rome in May

I think the time has come for at least an initial thank you note. Ms. Fant, I'm sure you recognized the influence of your previous writings on dining choices in Rome among the places I mentioned. I am very grateful for your taking the time to give me an extended update. As for pasta, shame on us if we spend a week in Rome without having exemplary carbonara (and/or gricia), amatriciana and caccio e pepe. Those dishes don't appear on the menu at many Italian restaurants in the U.S. (at least outside of NYC), and when they do the result would often reduce a Roman to tears.

The same thanks to Ms. Minchilli. I'm thrilled to get extensive comments from professional writers on Roman cuisine. Kudos to you and to Katie Parla for the spectacular photographs on your sites (loved your recent piece on L'Asino D'Oro). So many spectacular-looking dishes, so little time.

Steve h: Will file a report after we return. Hard to imagine that it will not include a rave from my wife about the abbacchio a scottaditto at Checchino. I expect I'll get a taste in return for a sample of my coda alla vaccinara. The restaurant may need a forklift to remove us.

Mar 06, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Rome in May

Chowhounders: You have enriched our dining experiences in years past in Venice, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Barcelona and Madrid. We thank you for past advice and seek comments on our planned one week trip to Rome in early to mid-May.

A little background may be helpful. We have carefully researched existing comments on this site and other dining related sites on the internet. We have been to Rome before; three decades ago. We are seniors, and thus travel at a more measured pace than we did in our younger years (but, thankfully, without disabilities). We will be staying in the Prati area, closest to the Lepanto metro stop. We have developed a dining routine that works for us in the trips mentioned above: 1) We generally eat our main meal of the day at a late lunch and snack in the evening; 2) We prefer traditional regional cuisines (the latest cuisine trends and tasting menus are not our thing); 3) We are fairly light eaters (a primi or secondi with an appetizer or salad and wine may well suffice for each of us; 4) Price is relevant, but our experience and dining habits tell us that we are happiest paying more for better; 5) We understand that regular customers and native speakers may get some preference, but would prefer to avoid dining destinations where there is a serious risk of disrespect for presentable, well-behaved tourists, who make reservations (which we have not heretofore experienced).

All that said, the following is a list of restaurants we have assembled, grouped, however awkwardly, geographically, and without reference to quality or prices, upon which we will appreciate pluses, minuses, additions, or corrections: PRATI: L'Arcangelo, Da Cesare, Il Matriciano, Il Ragno d'Oro da Marco e Fabio, Osteria dell' Angelo, Dino Express, Cacio e Pepe, Micci, Lilli (not in Prati, but close); COLOSSEO/CAVOUR: Nerone, Taverna Fori Dei Imperiali, L'Osteria della Suberra, L'Asino D'Oro, Trattoria Monti (near V. Emmanuele metro stop), or La Piazzetta (which may have closed last year); TESTACCIO: Checchino dal 1887, Da Felice, Perilli; NAVONA/PANTHEON: Grano, Da Gino, La Campana, Armando al Pantheon, Vecchio Locanda (near Torre Argentina); CAMPO/ GHETTO/ TRASTEVERE; La Gensola, Roscioli, Piperno, Filletaro Santa Barbera, Roma Sparita; PZA. DEL POPOLO, PZA. DEL SPAGNA, PZA. BARBERINI; La Colline Emiliane (Bolognese), Tuna, il Margutta, Hostaria Romana.

I have not mentioned wine bars, pizza al taglio, tramezzini, gelato , caffe, etc., destinations because I think I have the picture. But, If there are Prati/Vaticano spots you think are notable, particularly those that are a close walk from the Lepanto metro area, we would welcome them.

One last note: We know that traditional Roman cuisine is heavy on vegetables, meat, and offal. The above-list includes restaurants that we gather feature worthy seafood options. We are not lovers of fin-fish but love dishes, with or without pasta, built upon crustaceons or mollusks that are memorable. If there are restaurants that feature vongole veraci, fritto misto, insalata de frutti mare, or other seafood classics that shouldn't be missed, please mention them.

Thanks to all commentors will be delivered. So as not to unduly extend the string, I will forbear from delivering them one by one.

Thans in advance to all.

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La Campana
Vicolo della Campana, 18, Roma, IT 00186, IT

Trattoria Monti
Via di San Vito,13a, Roma , IT

Osteria dell' Angelo
Via Giovanni Bettolo, 24, Roma , IT

Checchino dal 1887
Via di Monte Testaccio, 30, Rome 00153, IT

Perilli
Via Marmorata 39, Rome , IT

L'Arcangelo
Via G. G. Belli 59/61, Rome, Lazio 00193, IT

Piperno
Monte de' Cenci, 9, Rome, Lazio , IT

Roscioli
Via dei Giubbonari 21/23, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

La Piazzetta
vicolo del Buon Consiglio, 23a, Rome, Lazio , IT

Colline Emiliane
Via degli Avignonesi, 22, Rome, Lazio 00187, IT

Il Matriciano
Via Dei Gracchi, 55, Rome, Lazio 00192, IT

Grano
Piazza Rondanini, 53, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

La Gensola
Piazza della Gensola, 15, Rome, Lazio 00153, IT

Hostaria Romana
Via del Boccaccio, 1, Rome, Lazio , IT

Mar 04, 2011
sernoff in Italy

Restaurant Recommendations in Barcelona

vinoreni: At the risk of sounding like I'm fawning, you will have a wonderful dining experience in Barcelona if you follow PBSF's advice. He has made many posts on dining in Barcelona and is careful to point out whether the cuisine is traditional or modern, the atmosphere presented by the restaurant(s) and the prices to be expected. Dig them all up and see what fits your tastes. My wife and I are seniors, prefer traditional cuisine and like to have our main meal at lunch (which is a mid-afternoon affair for American tourists in Barcelona). Looking at PBSF's list immediately above, we had lunch at Fonda Gaig based on his recommendation, enjoyed it greatly and thought the price quite acceptable.

I should mention one establishment that I think you won't find in a review of PBSF's posts that we also enjoyed immensely:
That was Carballiera, which specializes in traditional Galician cuisine. A lovely restaurant with lovely food, to our taste. A google search will display photos of some of their dishes, as is true of a number of Barcelona establishments.

Beautiful city, beautiful food. Enjoy!

Dec 24, 2010
sernoff in Spain/Portugal